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Essex County voters follow state trends

ELIZABETHTOWN Voters throughout Essex County went to the polls Feb. 5, participating in the Super Tuesday presidential primaries that captivated the nation. Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain were the winners of the primaries in New York State and locally in Essex County. Voters attending the polls, though, had opinions that ranged the gamut. Many voters cited the need for change and the need for experience as they reason for their voting decision. Russell LaTour and Edith Beardsley of Au Sable Forks both voted for Clinton, joining more than half of Essex County registered Democrats in supporting the New York senator. Shes got the experience, where (Sen. Barack) Obama doesnt, said Beardsley. LaTour said he felt a change was needed, and Clinton would be the best candidate to achieve that. Minor problems with voting machines cropped up in Chesterfield District 1 and St. Armand. In Chesterfield, 13 emergency ballots were cast until the machine was fixed. The situation was similar in St. Armand. In Chesterfield, it took Philip Pray less than 30 seconds to cast his ballot for McCain. McCain received an estimated 50 percent of the total vote. I think hes the smarter of the candidates with the experience, said Pray. Jonathan Slosser made the same choice in Willsboro when he went to vote. Choosing a candidate who could compete in the national general election was important to him. I think (McCain) stands the best chance of beating a Democrat hes a moderate type of guy, said Slosser. I think he would make the best president of all the Republicans. Other Republican candidates also received support. Lucille Sheehan of Au Sable Forks voted for Governor Mitt Romney. I like him. McCains been in too long, and (Gov. Mike) Huckabee hasnt got a chance, said Sheehan. She added she thought Clinton would inevitably secure the presidency after the general election. Peter Ducharme of Au Sable Forks supported Huckabee because the former Arkansas governor was pro-choice. For me, life is always the issue, said Ducharme. Eight election districts - Wadhams, Westport, Keene and Keene Valley, three district in Crown Point, Port Kent and Whallonsburg used paper ballots for the Democratic primaries. Republican election commissioner Lewis Sanders said machines in those districts were too old to be configured to a two-switch system required by the state of New York with this primary. The countys use of the paper ballots was approved by state board of elections officials late last week. Bernard Webb of Keene said he was surprised about the paper ballots, but found using them a more personal experience. Both he and his wife, Ethel, cast ballots for Obama. Because he can inspire the country and bring people together in a way Clinton probably cant, said Ethel Webb. He has a better chance of creating a bipartisan effort to change some things. Bernard, a former Bill Clinton supporter, said hed been turned off by the Clintons history. Paper and emergency ballots were hand-counted at the polling sites. Sanders said paper ballots were an inconvenience since it was more time-consuming to count them. All results are unofficial until certified, which will happen next week. Approximately 500 absentee ballots will be added to the final tally. Sanders said the election went "pretty good." The only complaints were from unaffiliated voters who wanted to vote in the primaries, but were turned away. In New York State, only registered Republicans and Democrats can vote in their party primaries. Charlene Newman of Au Sable Forks was upset by the policy. Newman, who recently relocated from the state of Illinois, is registered in the Green Party. I couldnt vote because were not allowed, said Newman. Newman had wanted to cast a vote Ron Paul. Sanders said the primary had a lighter turn out than he'd been expecting, with an estimated 30 percent of eligible Democrats and 20 percent of eligible Republicans casting ballots. It took an hour and a half to count the results for an unofficial tally. The board of elections office sounded like a call center, with phones ringing consistently after polls closed at 9 p.m. Democratic election commissioner David Mace spent time answering the calls, noting down the numbers, with other board of election employees. Mace said there had been plenty of problems setting up the machines, but there had been fairly few problems during the actual election. As results were gathered, Essex County Information Services employee Don Markwica uploaded the results to the board of election's Web site. For a town-by-town tally, people can visit www.co.essex.ny.us/elect.asp on the Internet. Essex County Presidential
Primary Results (Unofficial)
Democratic
Hillary Clinton - 1,183 Barack Obama - 849 John Edwards - 35 Bill Richardson - 15 Dennis J. Kucinich - 11 Joe Biden - 7 Republican
John McCain - 1,519 Mitt Romney - 816 Mike Huckabee - 430 Ron Paul - 204 Rudy Giuliani - 99 Alan Keyes - 12 Duncan Hunter - 3 Fred Thompson - 2

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